This is what I wrote on another thread:
The manipulation of an image is the artists vision of the scene when he came upon it. What the potential it had to him when he first saw it.
To judge an image as over manipulated is strictly in the eye of the viewer. You like it or you don't. The term over manipulated is a value judgement that the viewer makes when he decides to agree or disagree with the intent of the photographer. Neither the photographers nor the viewer's opinion is correct, they are merely judgements of what they like.
Nobody ever said that photography or paintings for that matter had to be an exact replica of what a scene actually looked like. (except maybe photojournalists)
As for color saturation, we all see things in nature differently. If we wear sunglasses the scene looks different than if we don't.
If we shoot during magic hour color saturation is far different.
If we print darker color saturation is different.
There is no right or wrong here, only our opinions of what we like. If you get off on being the recorder of a scene that's great, if you're a pictorialist that's great too. If your a surrealists, great too.
Why is there so much angst about what other people do or like.
Of course too much HDR or saturation can affect your opinion of a print but too much burning and dodging can too. Or not enough.
On this site through the years I've seen a lot of prints that bored me simply because they were not contrasty enough, snappy enough or looked like anything more than a scene captured at noon on a cloudy day. They had no impact and drew from me no emotional response.
But that just me. I like contrast and impact.